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Yosemite versus Vegemite March 18, 2012

Posted by Jenny in bushwhacking, hiking, Smoky Mountains.
Tags: , , , ,

I don't mean this...

This post is not about that terrible stuff that Australians spread on their toast. You pronounce “Vegemite” to rhyme with “Yosemite,” as in the national park. “Veg-em-i-tee,” with the same emphasis as “hegemony.”

So what on earth is this word I’ve invented? It’s a rating system for mountain travel where vegetation is the main obstacle. It runs parallel to the Yosemite rating system, which is concerned with rock more than vegetation.

Here is the Yosemite System:

Class 1 is walking on a maintained trail.
Class 2 is travel over a difficult trail or off-trail where minor scrambling is required.
Class 3 is scrambling where the use of hands is necessary for upward progression.
Class 4 is climbing where handholds and footholds are abundant but if you fall you might die. A rope may be used for safety.
Class 5.0 – 5.13b is technical climbing with increasingly minute holds where most people would use a rope.

Translating to vegetation, I would think the Vegemite System might go like this:
Class 1 is walking where there is no vegetative obstruction.
Class 2 is walking where branches need to be pushed out of the way and blowdowns need to be climbed over.
Class 3 is pushing through continuous vegetation but still standing up most of the time.
Class 4 is crawling on hands and knees through vegetation.
Class 5 is crawling on stomach through vegetation.

The rhodo I pushed through to get to this log is Class 3.5 in the Vegemite System.

Vegetation is not always the enemy in places like the Smokies. Sometimes it can be your friend, as Seth discovered in the gully pictured below.

And this gully points out the need for yet another rating system, one that deals with the usefulness of vegetation for handholds. Of course, real rock climbers scorn the use of “vegetable holds.”

Thoughts, anyone?

The vegetation here was a help rather than a hindrance.


1. MichaelEdits - March 18, 2012

I’ve brought my lovely Australian bride home to North Carolina, and I’m just sick that we can’t find Vegemite here. I’m hooked on the stuff. Or do I digress…?

Jenny - March 18, 2012

Since I also live in North Carolina, I wish I still had the jar of Vegemite that a well-meaning Australian visitor gave me as a house present. I would be happy to send it to you. But after it sat in a kitchen cabinet unopened for years, I finally disposed of it. Though it had no doubt retained all of its original Vegemite integrity.

2. Thomas Stazyk - March 19, 2012

Good one! We needed this word. I was doing some fence maintenance on our very hilly and wet (and cattle on one side) boundary the other day and confronted class 1 to 5 vegetation. But I also found it invaluable in helping to get down slippery slopes. It also can be a valuable back brace when cantilevered out over a ditch and hammering in fence battens.

Also, re vegemite, I agree with you but it’s all the rage down here. The NZ version is called Marmite and we are having a national crisis because the factory that makes it is in Christchurch and the plant has to close for earthquake repairs. We are being urged to “spread it thinly” and there is a website tracking which stores have run out and which still have a supply. The unsophisticated are defaulting to vegemite, but as one of our news people said, “it’s not the done thing.”

In any event, there is a theory down here that eating marmite or vegemite makes you mosquito proof because your body then gives off an odor they don’t like. I’m not surprised.

Jenny - March 19, 2012

I’m curious about the difference between Marmite and Vegemite. I thought they were more or less interchangeable. I’ve never been to NZ, but I’d encountered Marmite in England.

Thomas Stazyk - March 19, 2012

Apparently there is no fundamental difference–they are both made from yeast but the recipe is slightly different and there are lovers of one or the other who swear they can tell the difference. I’ve had both and they are both an acquired taste.

3. Gary - March 20, 2012

Marmite comes in brown globular jars
with yellow plastic lids. Can be used with peanut butter on
a sandwich .. add lettuce and tomatoes to moisten.

the marmite scale for the helpfulness of vegetative handholds ?
or perhaps the marmot scale ?

Jenny - March 20, 2012

Brown globular jars—what a wonderful description! Could make a good title for a poem. However, it doesn’t make me want to run out and buy some.

Marmot scale—that sounds good! Both for the sportswear outfit and for the blubbery little creatures galloping across boulders on precipitous slopes, using vegetative handholds (pawholds) as they go.

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